Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More thoughts on anticipating needs

Thanks for sharing all your thoughts about anticipating needs yesterday. I wanted to bring up another couple of points:

We anticipate needs, not wants.

Our standard line is, “We will do our best to meet your needs, but we can’t always meet your wants.” As a parent, it gives me joy to give special things to my kids, but sometimes that’s just not possible, and more often than not, indulging their wants (for things, for attention, for activity) ends up creating a demanding child. Everything in balance, right?

Anyway, most kids don’t know what their real needs are, and here’s where we usually have conflict. I don’t know many kids who realize their need for instruction, supervision, or permission. Most kids really don’t see the need to take responsibility, to be kind, or to clean up after themselves. These are "needs" that must be taught, and that's not always the most pleasant part of parenting.

Wouldn’t you know, last night we got to see this point in living color. After dinner, Allie (14) came rushing into the kitchen, her face ashen, and whispered in my ear that she had something to tell me. In the privacy of the laundry room, she tearfully explained that her phone accidentally fell into the toilet. At that moment, she did not “need” a lecture on why text-messaging in the bathroom is a bad idea. She needed a hug (And yes, she got the lecture later. Ack - I’m working on it, but I couldn’t help myself!).

When the emotion wore off, I’m sure she thought we would replace her phone for her. “I need to be able to call you!” she sobbed. No, at 14, we felt she “needs” to know what it’s like to work and save money to replace her phone. Her need to learn responsibility in this situation
outweighs her desire (I almost called it a need!) to have instant access to call mom.

Some needs are easier to meet than others.

The need for "company" usually drives me crazy. I have so many other things I'd rather be doing. As Andrea mentioned yesterday, it is easy as kids get older to assume they can do something by themselves. I get frustrated when they don't want to do it unless I'm standing RIGHT THERE ("I know you know how to do this; why do I need to be here?").

I know, just a little hint of empathy can turn a job into fun versus making it feel like punishment. When I say, "What else can I do for you?" I am supporting my child while she cleans up her mess. I am not cleaning it up for her, but she knows I am there. How much better for my child to say, "You can go now, Mom. I've got this," than to have her calling me constantly, or worse, sitting in a state of paralysis until I threaten her with dire consequences arrive, all in a huff. Now if I can just remember to do this.

Can you think of other "needs" we can be better about anticipating?


fAiThFuL cHiCk said...

I agree completely about wants versus needs. We don't want to paralyze our children by doing EVERYTHING for them. It's all about balance. I see a lot of adults out there who spend their whole lives not being able to make even the smallest decision because they were raised not having to make any.

For mine, the whole food issue is a big thing. They are constantly hungry. Really - CONSTANTLY hungry. I try to carry snacks wherever we go and anticipate the need. But, then there is that point where it turns into a want. Like, when they want a snack 15 minutes before dinner is ready.

The Lord has placed this need on my heart lately - their need for quiet time with Mom. I am trying to give each of them a little bit each day. Even if it is five minutes to spend alone with them in their room, put my arm around them, and ask how their day was. This seems to have decreased the frequency with which they try to get my attention in whiny, negative ways.

Great posts, girl. Great posts.


Anonymous said...

These are great posts.

I feel kind of ridiculous posting this, but...

If you turn off the cell, take it apart, (battery cover and battery out), and let it dry for a long time, (perhaps even using a hair dryer on low), and don't turn it on again until it's TOTALLY dry, it will most likely work again.

Electronics die when they're on and wet. If you turn them off and dry them out, they're often salvaged.

Best wishes!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

First, we too have brought electronics back to life by taking them apart and giving them a good blow drying. Just had to do it with the video camera (UGH!)

Second, these posts hit home for me. They are so convicting for me. I am going to adopt your phrase, "What else can I do for you?" I think that would be helpful.

I find it hard to spend one on one with each kid right now, but I have seen how effective that is and how much it builds up our relationship. I find I am often so desperately seeking "my time" that I struggle to give it up for time one on one...balance!

Thanks girl for sharing your heart!

Etta said...

I agree with Mary. I sometimes focus so much on making sure that I get all the "me" time I 'need' (want), that I forget that they need mommy time too!

Thanks for the conviction.

Sara at Miller Moments: said...

Thought provoking, once again. Identifying teenager "needs" and "wants" seems to be a bit easier - can you help with some preschooler areas, for those of us in the trenches of that? You have such amazing advice - I'd love to see how you apply this concept with your little ones. :) GREAT POSTS LATELY!!! LOVING THEM!

Anonymous said...

Hi Katherine,

I just started reading your blog, and I wanted to tell you that you are JUST what I need! I love your positive, down-to-earth attitude. Talking about anticipating needs reminds me of that bit of wisdom, "a stitch in time saves nine." I guess it pays the same with children as it does with stuff, to look for wear and tear and try to mend, reinforce and renew as needed before the major breakdowns occur. :)

I also LOVED the discussion of your littlest one's behavior that had gone "under the radar" with older ones providing camouflage. Ha! I have five children, too, oldest is 12 and the youngest is 3, home alone with me this year for the first time, also very guilty of some highly surreptitious behavior. Lol. We will be definitely working on that.

Keep it coming! :)


Laura said...

I was thinking about your "what else can I do for you" post just last night, and was so convicted when I realized my heart was screaming for: "LEAVE ME ALONE!" It really helped to turn my crooked little heart around and move forward.

PS. I've got to track down a funny cell phone dropping article for you. Hang on.

Laura said...

Ok - found it. It's a really cute column written by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and I think you'll find it funny and heartwarming.

Michelle said...

Excellent thoughts! It is not always easy to decide need or want but once you do, stand firm. Real life consequences are such a valuable lesson for your kids -- you are right on target with the phone. Before you know it, (and dare I say, before you are really ready) you'll be having a day like mine was today. I'd say prepare -- but I don't know if that's really even possible. I blogged about it between buckets of tears.

Joyfulness said...

Thanks for this discussion. I have a bell ringer myself and I find myself frustrated with him so often. "Can you keep me company while I go to the bathroom?" "Can you help me pick out my clothes?" "Can you, Can you..." He's 5 by the way. I'm going to have to give this some thought and see how I can help him and myself!

Macy said...

Thank you for giving me some great things to think about. I have loved these posts.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Again, this is just what I need to hear this week!